An incredibly moving documentary.
But before you think of looking up anything about this movie, stop. I’ve even cut short the full title about this movie because it acts as a bit of a spoiler as this is one of those movies that will truly hit you the more you know nothing about it. Dear Zachary still holds for me the saddest movie that I have ever watched. I don’t tend to rewatch it but I can’t help recommending it. It’s one of the best documentaries that exists and its subject matter was delivered with such a gut-wrenching effect that it moved me. As much I hated feeling that melancholic, I love this film.
What works about Dear Zachary is the absolute attention to the human element it focuses on. The people you are introduced to all have very real emotions behind them and heartfelt reactions to what is depicted in the movie, which really made me connect with them. It was like I was there in the interview process with the director and I was being moved in real time with the person telling their story. That was the power of how engrossed I was with the subject matter and the focus on the lives of these people.
Technically, the film’s direction doesn’t do anything different to that of a standard documentary. But because the people the director has chosen to focus on have been expertly employed, it makes it a fascinating film. Everyone’s emotionally engaged with the subject matter and the stories they tell are stories that need to be told. Everything is just so powerfully resonant and lovingly done, which goes back to why I was moved so much by this film.
I also really enjoyed the way the film was edited because it added to the whole emotional journey I was on. I had no clue where it was going to go and I wasn’t prepared for the feels it gave me. There are many ways they could have edited this differently that wouldn’t be as suspenseful or as purposeful to the message it wants you to take away and I’m glad they didn’t do so. Because what it is left is the best version of the product and an incredibly moving masterpiece of a documentary.
Dear Zachary is thankfully out on Netflix in the United States but needs to be out in Australia soon, as it’s a movie that deserves more recognition than it’s getting. It’s by far the saddest film I’ve ever seen, and the most emotionally potent documentaries made. It won’t get you hot and bothered about a political issue or a multimillionaire dollar corporation. But it will make you cry. Watch it when you can and see it.